• Tallahassee-based Culpepper hired as construction manager for Legacy Hall

    Sep 26, 2018

    The Florida State University College of Business hit another Legacy Hall milestone with the hiring of Culpepper Construction Company as construction manager for the college’s new $88 million, 218,392-square-foot home.

    Legacy Hall is the 38th project on FSU’s campus that the Tallahassee-based company has had a hand in constructing. Past work includes buildings for the University Center, Psychology, Materials Research, the Aero-Propulsion, Mechatronics and Energy (AME) Center, the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship.

    Beyond its work on the FSU campus, the company was responsible for the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital expansion, the federal courthouse, the Capital Circle Office Center and the 201 E. Park Avenue office building.

    Work on Legacy Hall is a labor of love for many members of the Culpepper team. Several are FSU business graduates, including executive vice president Chris Sumner (ACG/FIN ’01), project manager Jamie Stovall (BUS ADMIN ’14), director of risk management Joseph Shuler (REE/FIN ’98), and director of preconstruction Allan Franklin (MBA ’12).

    Culpepper“Everyone in the company is looking forward to working on this job, and as a College of Business alumnus, I don’t believe I’ve been so happy to work on a project in a long time,” Franklin said. “FSU has always been a main client of ours and every time we have an opportunity to work with the university, we go for it.”  

    Culpepper beat out a slate of highly qualified competitors to win the contract, said Lawrence R. Rubin, a registered architect and the university’s director of design and construction.

    “The Culpepperteam clearly demonstrated they knew the project and were prepared to jump on board,” Rubin said. “They have experience with this type of project for FSU; they have a good handle on local contractors and materials suppliers, which means they will be able to secure the best prices; and, we felt they could work well with us and the architects.”
    Culpepper is teaming up with the Boston, Mass.-based architectural firm Goody Clancy. Hired in early spring, Goody Clancy is known for designs that enhance student collaboration, both within the academic community and throughout the global business network, and for integrating sustainable design principles and the latest instructional technologies into their design process.

    The timeline for Legacy Hall, which depends on funding, has groundbreaking set for the second half of 2019, followed by a 22- to 24-month construction phase, with an anticipated grand opening date in fall 2021.

    “I think Legacy Hall is going to be one of the nicest buildings on campus,” Franklin said. “It’s gratifying to know that this building will be standing when our grandchildren are in college and will be instrumental in the College of Business being one of the most preeminent business schools in the country.”

    By Barbara Ash

  • Steve Mudder’s $1 million gift ensures Legacy Hall will remain state-of-the-art into the future

    Jul 02, 2018
    Headshot with Tower Background

    Since graduating from the College of Business, Steve Mudder has consistently invested his time and financial support in his alma mater. He says he does it because he is proud of the quality of the school, its faculty, alumni and students. Simply put, he loves Florida State University.  

    “With these outstanding resources, I believe we are on the road to becoming one of the nation’s Top 10 business schools,” Mudder said. “But to get there, we have to have a top-notch facility, and to continue climbing in the rankings, we have to look to the next 20, 30 and 40 years and make sure Legacy Hall remains cutting-edge and relevant.”

    Mudder has demonstrated he is a friend and advocate of the university and the college through his most recent $1 million estate gift to establish the Steve Mudder College of Business Building Maintenance Fund. The fund will provide for ongoing upgrades and upkeep of the new business building when needed in the future. His previous gifts to support Legacy Hall named the Steven J. Mudder Associate Dean’s Office and, in honor of his father and hero, the Gary D. Mudder Faculty Lounge. Mudder said he is hopeful his gifts will inspire others to recognize the importance of the new business building and to contribute generously to Legacy Hall.

    The new 210,000-square-foot, $88 million College of Business building will be located on the southeast corner of the FSU campus in the heart of the Arena District.

    “We are extremely proud of Steve’s impressive professional success, and grateful for his leadership in advocating for Legacy Hall,” said Dean Michael Hartline. “Before Legacy Hall opens its doors, Steve already understands the need for additional funding to maintain and enhance Legacy Hall in the future. We’re truly fortunate to have an alum like Steve who has the insight and vision to look out for the best interests of the college and its future.”

    Mudder earned his Bachelor of Science in finance, summa cum laude, in 1995 from Florida State, ranking at the top of his graduating class, and went on to earn his Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1998. For the past number of years, he has served on the College of Business Board of Governors and was a Charles A. Bruning Distinguished Speaker. He recently was invited to join the FSU Foundation Board of Trustees. He also is a lifetime member of the FSU Alumni Association and is active with Theta Chi Fraternity by serving as a Director on its alumni corporation.

    Mudder is a founder, shareholder and general counsel of Pan Asia Majestic Eagle Ltd., one of the premier wireless infrastructure companies in Myanmar (formerly Burma), and headquartered in Yangon, the country’s largest city and commercial center. He and his partners started the company in 2013. He also is a founder, shareholder, director and general counsel of PT Protelindo, the largest independent wireless infrastructure company in Indonesia, headquartered in Jakarta. He and his partners started this business in 2007, and Mudder lived and worked in Jakarta for seven years as the company grew from only 230 towers to more than 15,000 towers and from having 230 tenants to more than 25,000 tenants on its towers. He continues to commute regularly to Asia for business.

    Mudder is also owner and CEO of Elite Sports Management Inc., which specializes in the representation of professional athletes, primarily in the NFL. He has been representing professional football players since 2003.

    Mudder’s international legal and business career spans 20 years in private law firms and as an investor, business executive and general counsel for numerous domestic and foreign companies in the wireless infrastructure industry. He has formed or helped acquire and/or operate more than 30 companies in 11 countries in North America, Central America, South America, Europe, India, Asia, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean.

    Before becoming involved in the wireless infrastructure space, Mudder was a partner in the Atlanta-based law firm Cohen, Cooper, Estep & Mudder, where he specialized in corporate, sports and entertainment law. Mudder received his formal legal training as a corporate and mergers and acquisitions attorney while practicing law at two internationally recognized law firms, King & Spalding in Atlanta, Georgia, and Gunderson Dettmer in Menlo Park, California.

    By Barbara Ash
  • Michaud lends valuable expertise, financial support to FSU Real Estate program

    Jun 01, 2018

    College of Business real estate alumnus Gregory R. Michaud attended the FSU Real Estate Center’s first TRENDS Conference 23 years ago. Since that time, he has taken every opportunity to champion the center, the conference, the college’s top-ranked real estate program and its students.

    In fact, the 1991 graduate has demonstrated his support in countless ways, most recently with a gift to establish the Michaud Family Director’s Office for the center in the college’s new home, Legacy Hall, and to augment a previous gift he made to create the Michaud Endowment for Excellence in Real Estate. The impact of Michaud’s gift doubled to $200,000 when Voya Investment Management, the company for which he is managing director and head of Real Estate Finance, matched the donation.

    The endowment helps fund student travel to professional conferences as well as scholarships and fellowships for real estate students. He believes his contributions continue to be well spent. FSU’s real estate graduates are impressive, said Michaud, who has hired 20 of them over the years.

    “The Real Estate program sends us talented students, and we’ve really appreciated that, because finding good real estate analysts is not a given. But every graduate we’ve hired from the FSU Real Estate program is better prepared and stands head and shoulders above other analysts, becoming a key element of the company’s success,” said Michaud, who attributes his own early and enduring professional success to what he learned as a student in the program.

    Michaud, who went on to earn his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Kennesaw State University in Georgia and an Executive MBA from the University of Georgia, has worked in various capacities in the real estate department at Voya Investment Management. In his current role, he is responsible for the oversight and management of sourcing, underwriting and managing all commercial real estate loans. Before joining ING Group (the predecessor to Voya) in 1995, he was a real estate appraiser focused on commercial properties and eminent domain cases in the Southeastern United States, getting his start with Ketcham Appraisal Group in Tallahassee.

    Michaud’s significant contributions toward advancing the FSU Real Estate program, which U.S. News & World Report ranks as No. 6 among public institutions nationwide, and the center earned him the 2013-2014 Florida State University Real Estate Network Award. His contributions also include his major support of the annual TRENDS Conference, during which real estate experts from around the country gather to discuss emerging issues in the industry. The conference also provides a forum to engage industry leaders, real estate faculty members and students and forge valuable professional relationships.

    “I like that fact that when I go to New York City for business, people are aware of the TRENDS Conference and know that the FSU Real Estate program produces really good real estate graduates,” Michaud said.

    As a member of the center’s executive board who until last month served as its chair, Michaud also has lent his expertise by offering feedback on the program’s curriculum and, along with other board members, has influenced the center’s “Behind the Bricks” branding campaign to promote FSU’s program across the country. He is often sought out as a classroom speaker and mentor.

    Beyond his FSU activities, Michaud also is heavily involved in several real estate industry groups including the Urban Land Institute, the Commercial Real Estate Finance Council’s Board of Governors and Chairman Emeritus, Mortgage Bankers Association’s Finance Board of Governors and National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers.

    “Greg has been one of most energetic and effective advocates for our program and the conference, and his expertise has been extremely valuable on many fronts,” said Dean Gatzlaff, the Mark C. Bane Professor of Real Estate and the center’s executive director. “We are fortunate to be able to tap into his expertise.”

    By Barbara Ash
  • Alumnus sets ‘inspiring’ example of generosity

    Nov 28, 2017

    Edward-E.-BurrEd Burr believes there are two ways to give back to Florida State University – by offering his time and sharing his treasure. Since graduating in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, he has continued to do both generously.

    Burr has contributed untold hours as chair of the Florida State University Board of Trustees and has served on the FSU Foundation Board of Trustees, the Seminole Boosters Board and the FSU Real Estate Center Executive Board in the College of Business. He also was a Charles A. Bruning Distinguished Speaker at the college in fall 2016.

    This fall, he made a $1 million gift to FSU, allocating $200,000 of it to the College of Business to help with the construction of Legacy Hall, the college’s new home.

    “It’s important to me to make a positive difference in everything I do and to give back to the college, which laid the groundwork for much of my professional success,” Burr said. “The College of Business is on the rise, its faculty and programs are outstanding, and I believe its greatest days are ahead. It’s now time for the facility to match the greatness of its faculty and programs.”

    Widely considered a visionary industry leader for his ability to analyze real estate potential and create successful multi-use communities, Burr is president and chief executive officer of GreenPointe Holdings, LLC, a diversified holding company he founded in 2008 in Jacksonville, Fla. After graduating from Florida State, he began his career with Coopers & Lybrand LLP. In 1987, he founded the LandMar Group LLC and led the company's creation of master-planned, award-winning communities in Florida and coastal Georgia. He also co-founded Hampton Golf & Lifestyles Management, a golf course management and development firm.

    Throughout his career, Burr has been actively involved in business, civic and community organizations. He has served as chairman of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce and is currently on the chamber’s board of directors overseeing the Downtown Development Council.

    Burr was named Developer of the Year by his peers and accepted a gubernatorial appointment to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. He is actively involved in the Urban Land Institute, the National Association of Home Builders and the Northeast Florida Builders Association. A longtime advocate for bettering the lives of children, Burr founded the Monique Burr Foundation for Children in 1997, the year after his wife was killed in a car accident. The foundation is committed to the prevention of child abuse.

    “All of us at the college are incredibly proud to count Ed as one of our distinguished alumni,” said Michael Hartline, the college’s dean. “His remarkable success reflects well on us, and he sets an inspiring example of generosity and leadership for our students. We are extremely grateful for everything he does for the college and the university.”

    -by Barbara Ash
  • Alumni-run AgileThought pays it forward with generous support for MIS students

    Oct 02, 2017

    AgileThought_Leadership_Ryan_Dorrell_David_Romine_Jeff_AlagoodSuccessful alumni Dave Romine, Ryan Dorrell and Jeff Alagood hope recent gifts to the College of Business will spark the same kind of student collaboration and synergy that led them to create AgileThought, a Tampa-based information technology company.

    Since its creation in 2004, the company, focused on custom software solutions, has had enviable success by almost any measure. Its average annual growth for the past 14 years has been 44 percent, with a projected growth of 53 percent for 2017. It has grown from three employees to 300, and from one office location to four. It’s been on the Inc. 5000 list, which ranks the fastest-growing companies in America, for 10 consecutive years. And last year, it placed No. 4 on Fortune magazine’s “50 Best Workplaces for New College Grads,” outranking Google, which came in at No. 17.  

    “As young entrepreneurs, we started our business driven by a passion for the specific work we had done at our first jobs in enterprise software development in large corporations,” said Romine (MIS ’96), AgileThought’s CEO. “While the FSU management information systems (MIS) program did a tremendous job preparing us for this type of work, it took the launching and growth of our own business to realize how well the college prepared us for the numerous business challenges that we would face outside of IT. I’m still amazed 20 years later, we can trace our fundamental business acumen back to what we learned and experienced at FSU.” 

    So, Romine said, it seemed fitting that he and co-founders Dorrell (MIS ’95) and Alagood (MAR ’94) would want to support and enrich the college’s MIS program, its students and the IT industry in general. 

    They’re well on the way to accomplishing those goals with two recent gifts – $100,000 to establish the AgileThought Student Collaboration Lab in Legacy Hall, the college’s new home, and $75,000 to create the AgileThought Fund for MIS Student Excellence, that will support student travel to competitions, cloud-based services that provide students with tools for big data analysis, and enterprise data storage.

    “We see our gift as a way of removing barriers and opening up more opportunities to students for engagement, all toward enhancing the excellent educational experience provided by FSU,” Romine said.

    “If you look at the breadth of the impact our gift can have – from giving students the ability to collaborate in a purpose-built, real-world influenced lab environment, to the ability to travel to student competitions, to full-time accessibility of enterprise technology services – these activities will provide an advantage to students as they prepare for careers in IT.”

    Romine, Dorrell, Alagood and John Wagner, a University of Arizona graduate, hatched the idea for AgileThought while working in close quarters in the software development department at Arthur Andersen in early 2001. Romine, Dorrell and Wagner followed through with the plan three years later, and within the first year, the company generated more than $1 million in revenue. Alagood first opted for a position at a major accounting firm, eventually joining AgileThought in 2011.

    “These alumni provide an excellent example of giving back and paying it forward for the next generation of business leaders,” said Dean Michael Hartline. “We’re incredibly proud of the success Dave, Ryan and Jeff have achieved, and grateful to the entire team at AgileThought for their generosity and foresight.”

    By Barbara Ash
  • A foundation to build upon: Bob Sasser helps shape the future for FSU’s College of Business

    Apr 27, 2016

    Bob Sasser“The role of a human being is to do the right thing for the right reasons—to have a moral compass that guides leadership and success," shares FSU marketing alumnus and Dollar Tree CEO Bob Sasser. For Sasser, it’s never just about the numbers. This philosophy has not only guided Sasser’s professional career but has also lead to his continued support of Florida State University.

    Sasser and his wife Pam donated $1 million to the Florida State University College of Business. This transformative gift kick-started the college’s $80 million campaign to build a home equipped with the technology and resources needed to provide tomorrow’s business education—Legacy Hall.

    “We need to provide space for leaders to grow and succeed. We need to have the ability to keep and recruit the very best professors and students. Legacy Hall is going to be special and one-of-a-kind. I am very excited about the impact it will bring to the future students of FSU,” shares Sasser.  

    Legacy Hall will provide an increase in instructional space, along with the technology and collaborative work spaces for students to develop ideas, learn investment strategies from Wall Street insiders, practice sales calls in state-of-the-art labs and conduct research on current and emerging business issues.

    In addition to their Legacy Hall contribution, the Sassers have established several scholarships, including a $100,000 gift creating the Bob and Pam Sasser Fellowship in Marketing Excellence. In 2012, they gave $750,000 to the creation of the Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility—but the couple’s generosity doesn’t end there.

    Sasser also gives generously of his time. He is an active member of the FSU Board of Trustees, a lifetime member of the FSU Alumni Association, an FSU Foundation Presidents Club honoree, and a Seminole Boosters annual member as a Platinum Chief.

    Whether FSU academics or athletics, it’s all important to the Sassers. Their giving philosophy is fueled by the couple’s strong belief in the power of education and its importance in shaping and molding students. “It’s very fulfilling from this end to have a positive role in the success of the students,” explains Sasser.

    Time, treasure and talent are what Bob and Pam Sasser willingly give year after year to FSU. And the message they have issued to alumni is simple, “The vision of the future is solid, it’s strong—if you want to be part of something truly transformational, join us. Let’s come together…it’s everyone pulling the ropes.“   

    Legacy Hall is estimated to cost $80 million, including all building construction, technology and furnishings. A number of giving opportunities are available, visit to learn more.

    About Bob Sasser, Dollar Tree CEO

    Growing up the middle son in Panama City, Fla., Bob Sasser came from a home filled with love and a genuine belief in working hard and giving back. He used his strong work ethic and FSU degree to rise to CEO of Dollar Tree, one of the largest retail chains in the country.

    Under Sasser’s leadership, Dollar Tree has grown from a regional company located in the mid-Atlantic to an international chain with more than 5,000 stores across the United States and Canada. Annual sales have grown from a little more than $900 million in 1998—the year before Sasser joined the company—to $8.6 billion in 2014. In July 2015, Dollar Tree completed its acquisition of Family Dollar, and now has 13,823 stores, 21 distribution sites in 48 states, five Canadian provinces, more than 170,000 employees and $19 billion annually in sales—the highest earning discount chain in the industry.

    Sasser’s strong leadership skills are an attribute for much of his success. He believes, “I have a responsibility to the community and the greater society. It’s what we do—it’s what we live and how our business is built.”


  • $250,000 gift names Storm Center suite in Legacy Hall

    Apr 25, 2016

    TedOWhen alumnus Ted Ostrander, who has enjoyed an enviable 40-year career in the insurance industry, and his wife, Gail, decided to show appreciation to the Florida State University College of Business, funding the Ostrander Family Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center Suite in Legacy Hall made perfect sense.

    “First, I thought it was appropriate since I’m in the insurance business and the storm center plays such an important role for the industry, especially in Florida, which is exposed to hurricanes and the resultant damage they cause,” said the 1970 graduate of the risk management and insurance program and chairman of the board at LassiterWare. “Second, I have gotten to know Pat Maroney (retired RMI professor) over the years, and have seen the great work he had done with the storm center and wanted to honor his legacy.”

    Ostrander (pictured) credits his time at FSU and the college for much of his success. “It helped me get my first job, which started me on the road to my career; it allowed me to meet alumni all over the country who have helped me achieve the success I enjoy today,” said Ostrander, a longtime member of the Seminole Boosters and FSU Alumni Association. “Also most of my company’s senior leadership team graduated from FSU and the college, which I think has allowed the company to continue to grow and prosper.”

    Ostrander joined LassiterWare, headquartered in Leesburg, Fla., in 1973, eventually becoming president in 1987. Under his leadership, the company has become one of the largest independent insurance agencies in the country.

    As an industry leader, Ostrander has served as a risk adviser to many of the insurance industry’s top executives, investors and associates. Ostrander’s career has included chairing the Florida Association of Insurance Agents and serving on the boards for Certified Insurance Counselors and the Central Florida Healthcare Development Corp.

    Over the years, LassiterWare has been actively involved with the college’s RMI program, participating in several events and hiring summer interns. 

    “Our senior leadership team continues to be impressed with the quality and dedication these bright young students have and are excited to have some of them come to work for us,” Ostrander said. “I also will tell you it is very exciting to be around the today’s college students and see their enthusiasm and willingness to succeed.”

    Michael Hartline, dean of the College of Business, said, “All of us at the college are grateful for the Ostranders’ generosity and very excited that they chose the storm center as the beneficiary of their gift. This new suite will make a huge difference as we recruit star students and the best of the best faculty in the field. It will create the optimal environment in which they can perform their valuable work.”

    Ostrander encourages other alumni to also participate in college activities.

    “I think it is very critical for alumni to be involved in the college because it helps the college reach its goal of becoming a premier business school in the nation,” he said. “That will attract top-flight students who someday will become the business owners and leaders in our state.” 


    By Barbara Ash

  • Auditorium in Legacy Hall made possible through generosity of the Lashers

    Apr 25, 2016

    LasherTo say Stuart Lasher is enthusiastic about the future of the College of Business is an understatement. The 1981 Florida State University graduate is equally passionate about giving back to the college, which he says put him on the right path to his own success as an entrepreneur.

    To demonstrate how much his time at FSU meant to him, the finance and accounting graduate and his wife, Karessa, recently made a $400,000 gift that will help build a 100-seat, state-of-the-art auditorium in Legacy Hall, the college’s new home. The first-floor auditorium will be named in their honor.

    “The education that I received at FSU was exceptional, but as importantly, I had so many positive personal experiences through my fraternities (Beta Alpha Psi, an honor organization focused on accounting, and Lambda Chi Alpha, a social fraternity) and professors,” said Lasher, founder, chairman and CEO of the private investment firm Quantum Capital Partners Inc., based in Tampa, Fla. “I am very honored to be connected with the college because I see the education and tools they are giving students to prepare them for their future as business leaders. I am also very impressed with the commitment and excited about the future under Dean Michael Hartline and the faculty at the College of Business.”

    Lasher added that he timed his gift to be one of Hartline’s first to receive as newly appointed dean. Hartline (pictured), who served as interim dean beginning in July, officially took over his new position on April 1. “I saw Dean Hartline’s energy and excitement about the college and his passion for students and wanted this to be his very first gift,” Lasher said.

    “The Lashers’ gift moves us closer to making Legacy Hall a reality, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am, for not only this investment in our future, but also for Stuart’s involvement with our students,” Hartline said. “To have someone of Stuart’s caliber interact with our students ensures that they, like him, receive outstanding personal experiences that enhance their education.”

    Lasher, who has spoken at the college a number of times, says he enjoys coming back to campus and seeing motivated, energetic and enthusiastic students. “We need to encourage young people to come up with new ideas and to take risks, but they have to have the skills to be successful,” said Lasher, whose stepson John Pennachio is a sophomore majoring in entrepreneurship at FSU. “The FSU College of Business offers courses from finance to accounting to marketing and management — FSU offers courses in all of the disciplines you need to run a business.”

    Lasher began his career at KPMG Peat Marwick, and from 1981 to 1986, he participated in the audits for major companies, such as Publix Supermarkets; General Mills Restaurant Group (now Darden Restaurants), which includes Red Lobster and Olive Garden; and Bright Star Holdings, a hotel and restaurant conglomerate.

    From 1986 to 1989, he was senior vice president and CFO and served on the Board of Directors of Silk Greenhouse, a national retailer. While there, the company went public and grew from six stores to 90 and from $6 million to $200 million in annual revenue.

    In 1990, Lasher co-founded and served as chairman and CEO of National Business Solutions Inc. (NBS), a professional employer organization based in St. Petersburg, Fla. NBS grew to one of the largest organizations of its kind in the country, with approximately $300 million in annual revenue before it was acquired by Paychex Inc in August 1996.

    Lasher and NBS received numerous awards, including being recognized as Inc. magazine’s 57th Fastest Growing Company in 1995. The company also was a finalist for the 1995 Ernst and Young (EY) Florida Entrepreneur of the Year; and winner of the 1996 St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.

    In 1998, Lasher founded Quantum Capital Partners, a family office and private firm that invests in restaurants, retail, business services and real estate. In 1999, Quantum invested in Lifestyle Family Fitness, which, at the time, had six locations and $6 million in annual revenues. From 1999 to 2011, Quantum assisted Lifestyle Family Fitness in developing a strategic plan and developing its infrastructure to support the company’s growth to 56 locations and more than $100 million in annual revenue.

    Quantum negotiated the sale of the northern clubs of Lifestyle Family Fitness to Life Time Fitness and the sale of the Florida clubs to LA Fitness in July 2012. Lasher served as board chairman of Lifestyle from 2008 through the sale.

    Quantum’s current portfolio of investments include PDQ Southern Texas, Fitlife Foods and Positive Lifestyle International (a Tony Little brand). Lasher also serves on the board of directors of Life Time Fitness, a Healthy Way of Life Company based in Minneapolis, Minn. with annual revenues in excess of $1.5 billion. Life Time Fitness was acquired by TPG and Leonard Green in June 2015 for $4 billion.

    Lasher also is president of the Lasher Family Foundation and a member of the board of directors of numerous charities, and Quantum Capital Partners is a co-sponsor of the Derrick Brooks Charities’ annual charity golf event.

    -- By Barbara Ash
  • With Williamson’s generous gift, Legacy Hall is a step closer to being ‘open for business’

    Nov 23, 2015

    Williamsons1Giving of one's time, talent and treasure to worthwhile organizations is of prime importance to 1971 FSU College of Business graduate Bill Williamson and his wife, Connie. Supporting his alma mater – the Alumni Association, Seminole Boosters, the FSU Foundation and the College of Business – is one way for the couple to invest in the future of FSU and its students. 

    The couple’s recent gift to the college in honor of his family will fund an undergraduate breakout room in Legacy Hall, the college’s new home. They also are in the process of leaving their legacy at FSU through an estate gift that will benefit the College of Business in various capacities.

    “Connie and I felt our donation to Legacy Hall was a way to show support for a university we both love and hold dear,” he said. “I would encourage other alumni to consider the College of Business in their annual charitable giving plans, because as their wealth grows and their charitable giving increases, the college is a great place to begin supporting and continue supporting throughout their careers.”

    Though Connie graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in zoology and received a nursing degree from the University of South Carolina Upstate, Williamson said she caught the “FSU bug” when she worked in FSU’s Department of Biological Sciences conducting endocrinology research. Now a registered nurse, she works part time at Spartanburg Regional Hospital.

    For his part, Williamson said the College of Business was a “springboard’’ as he embarked on a successful 42-year career as a senior executive in the health-care profession, and that is a major reason he maintains his connection to the college and university.

    “Walking around campus recently, I was excited to see all the newly completed construction that has taken place since I graduated, as well as all the construction currently underway, and all for the benefit of students. I look forward to the day when Legacy Hall is complete and officially open for business.”

    Almost immediately upon earning his degree in management, Williamson went to work for Beverly Enterprises, headquartered in Pasadena, Calif. The next 15 years, he rose from food services supervisor to senior vice president of operations. Between 1988 and 1995, he served as regional manager at Healthcare Retirement Corporation of America in Greenville, S.C., and Liberty Healthcare Inc., also in Greenville. He then spent 10 years as director of operations at Health Management Resources Inc., during which time the company grew from 11 facilities to 21 in three states.


    From there, he advanced to vice president and chief operating officer at HMR Advantage Health Systems Inc., in Easley, S.C. One of three partners, he was responsible for operations and clinical services and oversight of marketing and rehabilitation services. In 2010, the partners sold the company to Covenant Dove LLC, and for the next three years, Williamson served as director of operations for Community Care Homes Inc. in Greenville.

    Now retired from his fulfilling career, Williamson is aware of the importance to inspire young people. “I have always said to aspiring young professionals that to succeed in life in the business world you need four things: a good education, hard work, a few breaks and good luck, and to be the best No. 2 person in an organization, if the No. 1 position is already taken.” 

    “We are fortunate to have people of Bill and Connie’s caliber and experience involved with the college and our students,” said Michael D. Hartline, interim dean. “We’re excited about their gift and grateful that they chose to be part of the present and the future of the college.”

    Written by Barbara Ash

  • Legacy Hall Visioning Study completed

    Oct 28, 2015

    visioningcover2The College of Business New Building Committee completed its Legacy Hall Visioning Study, which provides the building’s basic parameters – its uses, size, imaging of the space and an initial project budget. The college begins a search for the building’s architectural team later this fall.  

    “The 215,000-square-foot building is projected to meet student and faculty growth over the foreseeable future,” said Dean Gatzlaff, chair of the committee, Mark C. Bane Professor and director of The Center for Real Estate Education & Research.

    Funding for the $80-million building will be provided equally from private donations and Florida State. Click here to read the Legacy Hall Visioning Study (PDF). Click here to learn more about the vision of Legacy Hall.

  • Starbucks' John Culver names hospitality research suite in Legacy Hall

    Jul 23, 2015

    Starbucks_-_John_Culver-HiRes1[1]Since graduating from Florida State University's College of Business in 1982, Starbucks' John Culver, has remained involved in his alma mater in substantial ways – such as serving on the FSU Foundation's Board of Trustees, sharing his professional insights with students as a Charles A. Bruning Distinguished Speaker, and providing financial resources that support the College of Business.

    This summer, the Dedman alum and group president for Starbucks Coffee China and Asia Pacific, Channel Development and Emerging Brands, and his wife, Karen, made a $250,000 commitment that funds the John and Karen Culver Hospitality Research Center Suite in Legacy Hall. The college's new home is scheduled to break ground as early as fall 2017.

    "The Dedman School of Hospitality is a recognized global leader in the area of education and research directly impacting the hospitality industry, and my wife and I are honored that our gift to FSU will help accelerate and expand its efforts to prepare future hospitality leaders," said Culver, a 2015 College of Business Hall of Fame inductee.

    "John and Karen's commitment will significantly enhance the education and research missions of the Dedman School, enabling our faculty to produce research that both enriches our students' educational experiences and helps to solve real issues in the hospitality industry," said Michael D. Hartline, interim dean of the College of Business, which houses the Dedman School of Hospitality. "We are incredibly proud of John and his accomplishments and especially honored that he and Karen have chosen to invest in the future of our college and the hospitality program."

    Culver joined Starbucks in August 2002 as vice president and general manager of Foodservice, responsible for leading sales, marketing and operations. In 2007, he was promoted to president of Starbucks Coffee Asia Pacific, and cultivated the Starbucks Experience for all Starbucks company-operated, joint venture and licensed markets within the Asia Pacific region and oversaw the company's rapid expansion throughout the 10-market region.

    From 2009 to 2011, he served as president of Starbucks Coffee International (SCI), leading teams responsible for the overall management, business development and operations of Starbucks in all markets outside the United States. Known for his vision, strong leadership and ability to connect across cultures, he has played a major role in building the foundation for Starbucks rapid international growth, which today encompasses over 65 markets around the world.

    Before joining Starbucks, Culver was vice president of Sales for Nestlé USA. He was responsible for sales, development and growth of more than 30 brands within the foodservice channel across the United States.

    Culver has served on the board of directors for the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association and on the advisory board for the Pacific Northwest Hospitality Industry, supporting City of Hope. He is actively involved in supporting initiatives to help and hire returning U.S. military veterans and their spouses.

    Culver is a member of the Florida State Alumni Association, the Florida State Foundation's President's Club, and an honoree of the Robert Strozier Society within Florida State University Foundation’s Presidents Club.

    In 2011, Culver was named the Dedman School of Hospitality's Alumnus of the Year by its Society of Hosts organization and was the Charles A. Bruning Distinguished Speaker at the College of Business. He currently serves on the Florida State Foundation Board of Trustees and is a generous supporter of the Florida State's Seminole Boosters. He and his wife, Karen, also established the John & Karen Culver Endowment for International Travel Support for hospitality students.

  • Florida Cabinet Approves Land Swap to Benefit College of Business

    Nov 12, 2014

    The Florida Cabinet today approved a major land swap that will enable Florida State University to build a new home for its nationally ranked College of Business.

    The swap - between the city of Tallahassee’s Community Redevelopment Agency and the state of Florida’s Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund - allows the state to receive a 5.34-acre parcel located on the south side of the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center and bordered by West Madison Street to the north and Gaines Street to the south.

    In exchange for this property, the state will give up three nearby parcels totaling 5.74 acres and also pay $960,000 to the CRA. Once under state ownership, the 5.34-acre parcel, known as the “O’Connell property,” will be placed on the university’s master lease and become part of the campus.

    “This land swap is an important step in our plans to move the College of Business further toward its goal of preeminence,” said President John Thrasher. “This new building, coupled with the outstanding instruction that our students already receive, will make a tremendous difference in accomplishing that goal. As the college’s reputation continues to grow, business graduates will take advantage of better, higher-paying job opportunities.”

    Since acquiring the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, Florida State has been actively planning the Arena District development, a large-scale, mixinned-use development that includes academic, hospitality, athletics, conference and convention, retail and other uses. The addition of the Arena District will be the next major development initiative of the university and will complement the recent emergence of the “Madison Mile” and College Town, a district of shops, restaurants and student housing between the Civic Center and Doak Campbell Stadium. The acquisition of the O’Connell property is the latest piece of this redevelopment puzzle to be put into place.

    The College of Business plans to construct a $75-million, 225,000-square-foot building on the site that will house all of its programs, including the Dedman School of Hospitality. The college will raise money for the building over the next two years and expects to break ground in the fall of 2016 and to move into the building in fall 2018.

    “This new building is crucial to competing successfully with other top-tier business schools for world-class faculty and the best students,” said Caryn Beck-Dudley, dean of the College of Business. “The new building will give us the ability to greatly expand professional development, collaboration and networking opportunities for students, and better prepare them for the jobs of the future. This building is also our legacy to the next generation of students who expect and deserve a stellar education at Florida State.”

    The College of Business enjoys national standing in several rankings.

    • U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” ranks the college’s undergraduate programs at No. 40 among public universities and No. 62 in the nation among all programs, both public and private. What’s more, the undergraduate program in the Dr. William T. Hold/The National Alliance Program in Risk Management and Insurance ranks No. 5 among public universities and No. 6 among all institutions. The real estate program is ranked No. 9 among public schools and No. 12 among all universities.
    • Business Insider ranks the college at No. 18 on a list of the top 25 business schools nationwide with the best value.
    • Public Accounting Report’s 33rd Annual Professors Survey-2014 ranks the college’s accounting program among the top 50 in the nation. The college earned the No. 43 spot in the report’s Top 50 Undergraduate Rankings and the No. 35 spot in its Top 50 Master’s Rankings.


  • A reason to celebrate: Donors' generosity puts college on the way to its $75-million new building

    Oct 22, 2014

    Just prior to Florida State University's kickoff of its $1 billion "Raise the Torch" capital campaign on Oct. 17, the College of Business celebrated the public phase of its own $112-million capital campaign. About a third of that -- $35 million --will go toward the college's new $75-million building. The university has committed to securing the remainder of the building's cost once the college meets its $35-million goal.

    "This new building is crucial to competing successfully with other top-tier business schools for world-class faculty and the best students," Dean Caryn Beck-Dudley told the crowd gathered at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to celebrate the college's progress toward its campaign goals. "Just as important, it is our gift and our legacy to the next generation of students who expect and deserve a stellar education at Florida State. I have been overwhelmed with the enthusiastic and generous support of you and many others."

    The college will raise money for the building for the next two years and expects to break ground in the fall of 2016 and to move into the building in fall 2018.

    Since November, when the college had the soft launch of its campaign for the new building, more than 590 donors have contributed more than $7 million, and an additional $25 million in gift proposals are being considered by potential donors. Already 132 spaces in the new building have been named at various gift levels.

    To date, students and members of five fraternities - from across campus and in all disciplines - have contributed almost $23,000 toward the building. Their goal is to raise $250,000 over the next two years.

    More than 91 percent of the college's faculty and staff members also have donated. "This is so important to our effort because it demonstrates faculty and staff's pride and confidence in the college and encourages others to invest in our future," Beck-Dudley said.

    The building will be located near the Leon County Civic Center, which is fast becoming the new gateway to the Florida State campus and the start of Madison Mile, the heart of the new Arena District. This district is being revamped with new retail stores, restaurants, a hotel, housing, outdoor attractions and academic spaces. The Dedman School of Hospitality will move into the new building from its current University Center location.

    The location of the new building, near this burgeoning business complex, the state capitol and the College of Law, gives students and faculty ample opportunity to collaborate with civic leaders, corporate partners, and other academic units in a variety of exciting initiatives.

  • Campaign for Legacy Hall Receives Enthusiastic Kickoff

    Dec 09, 2013

    Images from Legacy Hall campaign kickoff

    The tailgate party before the Florida State-Miami football game provided the backdrop for the official launch of the campaign for Legacy Hall, the College of Business’s future home.

    Donations and pledges by members of the college’s board of governors, alumni, faculty, staff and students, who attended the kickoff, totaled more than $587,200, and includes a $500,000 check from Syn-Tech Systems Inc. and a $5,000 check from Florida State’s Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. Florida State President Eric Barron also was on hand to show support and reiterate his willingness to provide part of the funding for the $65 plus-million building. The College of Business is expected to raise $35 to $45 million.

    Legacy Hall will be constructed near the Leon County Civic Center, which is soon to become the new gateway to the Florida State University campus. The new building will provide a 67 percent increase in instructional space, along with the technology and collaborative spaces needed to provide tomorrow’s business education.

    Providing a major boost to the campaign was a $500,000 gift presented at the launch by Doug Dunlap, president of engineering design firm of Syn-Tech Systems Inc., and David Oglesby, the company’s vice president for operations. Both graduated with degrees in business administration, Dunlap in 1973, and Oglesby in 1972.

    Legacy Hall Faculty and Staff Campaign Chair Kathleen McCullough sees the campaign as a concrete step toward attaining the long-awaited state-of-the-art building and a resource for attracting top-notch faculty and students.

    “We have heard plans for some time, but the launch was a tangible sign that the dream is within reach,” said McCullough, State Farm Insurance Professor of Risk Management and Insurance and assistant department chair. “Our participation is a signal to alumni and the community of how important we feel the new building is to the college and university. “

    For members of Phi Kappa Tau, the campaign for Legacy Hall provides an opportunity to engender the spirit of philanthropy campus wide, as well as to forge a solid relationship with the College of Business. The 140-member chapter is made up of about 65 percent business students, according to sophomore Daniel Dispenziere, the chapter’s executive vice president and a finance and marketing major.

    During the check presentation, Dispenziere challenged all student organizations to look at their fall and spring philanthropic giving and find a way to give back to Florida State.

    “All of us have incredible platforms by which to help this university grow and prosper,” said Dispenziere. “We just need to make it happen.”

    The college’s original building was completed in 1958 at a time when the College of Business enrolled roughly 800 students. In 1984, an annex was added, and the entire building was dedicated as the Charles A. Rovetta Business Building. At the time, the college enrolled 3,000 students. Today, the college enrolls roughly 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

  • FSU launches website to provide updates on the Civic Center revitalization process

    Oct 31, 2013
    Florida State University has created a website to provide updates on the planning process and progress in the Civic Center revitalization effort. The site contains an overview of the planning process, maps of the site, and progress reports from planning subcommittees and consultants. Visit the site at
  • FSU making changes to bring back sparkle to Civic Center

    Oct 31, 2013
    FSU President Eric Barron hopes that the Civic Center will look dramatically different in seven or so years. He gets noticeably excited talking about his vision for the site, which includes a private-sector conference center-hotel on the property and Madison Street turning into a mile-long pedestrian walkway between the Civic Center and the newly opened College Town adjacent to FSU’s football stadium. Read more
  • $1 million challenge gift launches College of Business' $65 million new-building plan

    Oct 31, 2013

    Dollar Tree CEO and wife stand with Dean Beck-Dudley and Pres. Eric Baron holding $1 million check

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A $1 million gift to the Florida State University College of Business from Dollar Tree Inc. President and CEO Bob Sasser and his wife, Pam, will kick-start the college’s $65 million new-building campaign.

    The Sassers are challenging fellow alumni to demonstrate confidence in their alma mater by supporting the college’s efforts to grow, prosper, and strengthen the educational experience for generations of Florida State business students to come. The university has committed to matching private donations raised for this new facility.

    Sasser, a 1973 marketing graduate, presented the gift on Friday to Florida State University President Eric J. Barron and College of Business Dean Caryn Beck-Dudley during a visit to his alma mater. 

    “This is a remarkable show of support for the College of Business and recognition of the college’s excellent reputation and success of its graduates,” Barron said. “We are grateful to the Sassers for stepping forward with their generous gift and for challenging other alumni to follow suit and be part of the school’s legacy.”

    The Sassers’ gift will allow the university to move forward with plans to relocate from the Rovetta Business Building into a new, state-of-the art business facility that will provide a 67 percent increase in space and meet the changing demands of 21st-century business education. The Rovetta Business Building originally was constructed in the 1950s, with an addition completed in the 1980s. The Florida State College of Business is one of the nation’s youngest business schools, yet its reputation for excellence has helped it to become one of the 10 largest.

    “Pam and I are pleased to be in a position to give back to the College of Business, and we are especially happy we can be part of the school’s efforts to give students a superb education,” said Sasser, who in 2009 was inducted into the college’s Hall of Fame. “The college has produced global business leaders, and we’re hopeful that our gift will inspire others to give and be part of this great legacy of educating the best of the best.”

    Tentatively called Legacy Hall, the new five-story business building will provide the instructional, technological and collaborative spaces in which to educate the people who will influence tomorrow’s business world. It will house the student business incubator and will open avenues for collaborative research among Florida State’s faculty, enabling the college to meet the training and continuing education needs of alumni and business partners.

    “The Sassers’ gift is transformative for us,” Beck-Dudley said. “Architecture defines who we are and who we want to be. We are a great business school currently housed in a modest facility. Legacy Hall will allow us to become an internationally preeminent business school prospering in a world-class facility. A magnificent building will define our future not only for our students, faculty and alumni but also for our friends and the business community at large.”

    This recent gift is not the first time the Sassers have stepped forward to benefit the college. In June 2011, the Sassers established the Bob and Pam Sasser Fellowship in Marketing Excellence to benefit marketing graduate students.

    Bob Sasser joined the Chesapeake, Va.-based Dollar Tree Stores in 1999 as chief operating officer. He has been president since 2001 and chief executive officer since 2004. Under his leadership, Dollar Tree has grown from a small regional company located predominantly in the Mid-Atlantic states to an international company with stores across the 48 contiguous states and four Canadian provinces.

    In 2008, Dollar Tree entered the Fortune 500 as one of the largest companies in America and was No. 1 in total returns to shareholders. As of 2012, Dollar Tree operates 4,451 stores in 48 states and five Canadian provinces, with a total of 38.6 million square feet of retail selling space. According to, Sasser was cited as one of the “Best Bosses for the Buck.”

    While at Florida State, Sasser was a member of Theta Chi social fraternity. He is a lifetime member of Florida State’s Alumni Association and a Golden Chief Booster. He also serves on The Fresh Market Inc. board of directors.

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